Alone: The Home Recordings

"For Weezer fans awaiting the next installment, it adds up to a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of Cuomo’s sweet, strange mind."

Rivers Cuomo, Weezer’s perpetually fraught frontman, caricatured geek chic before we knew such a thing even existed. Two parts science nerd, one part sexually repressed dweebling, it was a persona slathered all over his songbook: hits such as ‘Buddy Holly’ and ‘Undone (The Sweater Song)’ read like anti-jock credos larded with Hallmark Card sincerity and buttoned-down desire. Once fame and adulation came knocking, though, Cuomo embraced another archetype: the reclusive rock star, shrinking in (apparently genuine) horror from the clamour of celebrity (when this writer interviewed him in 2005, Cuomo could hardly bring himself to make eye contact, let alone engage in meaningful conversation). Hence his frequent sabbaticals – including two stints at Harvard and, in the late ’90s, five ‘lost’ years between Pinkerton and The Green Album.

Solitude, it turns out, is a snug fit. Culled from his ‘wilderness’ period, this suite of out-takes and half-sketches paints the artist as a hermetic figure, happiest left to his pedals and amps and to his solitude. Included is an early take of ‘Buddy Holly’ stripped of the power-pop bombast that rendered the finished version so overblown and saccharine. We also get some spare scraps from Cuomo’s aborted attempt at crafting – yes – a science fiction musical (‘Dude, We’re Finally Landing’) and the odd cover version (so awful is his take on Ice Cube’s ‘The Bomb’ it actually transcends novelty value). But Cuomo is at his best when he stops trying to be arch and lets himself gush, as on the gently lilting ballads ‘Crazy One’ and ‘I Was Made For You’. For Weezer fans awaiting the next installment – a new album is tentatively due later in 2008 – it adds up to a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of Cuomo’s sweet, strange mind.

 

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